Considerable press has been given to the UK patient that unfortunately contracted a fungal eye infection. It appears she may have been mis-managed and misdiagnosed until the infection had gone too far and her eye could not be saved. I include here an extra from a UK optical magazine. It discussed the potential that people that order lenses from online suppliers are at greater risk. I would have to agree, in my experience, people adapt an entirely different attitude towards their lenses when ordering through our clinic than on our website. We established our online account strategy so people could take control of their optical details. Inherent in that was the implicit assumption people would also take responsibility for their after care and professional eye examinations. There is little point in uploading someone’s optical details, that are either out of date or irrelevant to them.
Fundamentally the issues arise from soft daily disposable wearers falling into a false sense of security. They believe and perhaps are lead to believe, wearing a daily disposables soft contact lens is a perfectly safe option. Hygiene is less of a concern when you are discarding the lenses after each wear. This UK example highlights the difficulty with that presumption. An infection introduced to the eye may not be terminated by simply disposing of the contaminated lens that evening. In fact this would almost never be the case.
Jacqueline Stone, from Rayne in Essex, spent 17 weeks in hospital after wearing Focus Dailies All Day Comfort lenses. She was diagnosed with an infection caused by Fusarium, a fungus which can cause severe infection if it comes into contact with the eye, and after 22 operations, surgeons were forced to remove her eye.
In response to the story, the BCLA is urging contact lens wearers to always buy their contact lenses under the supervision of a registered practitioner and in person.
BCLA president, Dr Catharine Chisholm, said: “Contact lens wearers who buy lenses from sources other than their eye care practitioner have been shown to be less likely to follow good eye care health practices, including being less likely to attend regular aftercare check-ups.
“Thankfully it is extremely rare for someone to develop an eye infection as a result of contact lens wear – and even less common for this to result in a loss of vision or the eye itself,” she added. “However, infections of the cornea can be very serious and are most commonly associated with patients not following the precise instructions for lens care and wear given to them by their eye care practitioner.”
Ms Stone bought the lenses from online retailer Lenstore.co.uk. Some of the press reports stated that Lenstore.co.uk is owned by Alcon. However, Alcon has reiterated that it does not own Lenstore.co.uk or any other online retailer, and the reporter has corrected this information in the story.
Speaking to OT, a spokesperson for Alcon said: “Alcon is aware of the press coverage about an allegation made by a UK consumer that she experienced health-related complications from an eye infection. Based on the investigation conducted by Alcon so far, there is no direct connection between the contact lens and the consumer’s unfortunate experience.”
I would like to acknowledge and thank Optometry Today UK for this article.